Shimano Sustain 2500FE ReviewShimano Sustain 2500FE Spinning Reel

Overall score - 94% = (Amazing)

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score


Reviewer: Don

The Shimano Sustain was completely redesigned for 2007 under Shimano's SR-Concept. The Sustain FE features the new Paladin Gear Durability Enhancement, Propulsion Line Management System, and Aero Wrap II Oscillation. The Sustain FE's new propulsion spool lip with titanium coating gives the Sustain FE superior castability. The new waterproof drag "seals" the deal (no pun intended) and adds a great measure of durability to Shimano's newly redesigned Sustain FE.

Specs

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

Model(s):

Model
Max Drag
Bearings
Gear Ratio, Line Retrieve, and Reel Weight
Line Capacity
SA1000FE
7 lbs.
7+1
6.0:1 - 29" - 7.4 OZ
4 LBS/140 YDS
*SA2500FE
15 lbs.
7+1
6.0:1 - 35" - 9.5 OZ
8 LBS/140 YDS
SA3000FE
15 lbs.
7+1
6.0:1 - 35" - 9.5 OZ
8 LBS/170 YDS
SA4000FE
20 lbs.
7+1
5.7:1 - 37" - 13.9 OZ
10 LBS/200 YDS
SA5000FE
25 lbs.
7+1
5.7:1 - 37" - 13.9 OZ
12 LBS/195 YDS
SA6000FE
29 lbs.
7+1
5.7:1 - 42'' - 20.8 OZ
16 LBS/170 YDS
SA8000FE
29 lbs.
7+1
5.7:1 - 42" - 20.3 OZ
20 LBS/185 YDS

* Model(s) used during this review.

Design features:

- Aluminum Frame
- Graphite Sideplate
- Graphite rotor
- Aluminum Spool with titanium lip
- Spare Aluminum Spool with titanium lip
- Machined Aluminum Handle
- Floating Shaft
- Repairable Clicker
- Paladin Gear Durability Enhancement
- Propulsion Spool Lip
- Shielded A-RB bearings
- Waterproof Drag
- Aerowrap II Oscillation worm gear
- Sealed Maintenance Port

Made in:

- Malaysia

Price when Reviewed:

- $250 - $300


Background

Founded in the early 1920’s by Shozaburo Shimano, Shimano began as a company known for its precision engineering. Today the company is regarded as one of the forerunners in product innovation and a leader in the industry.

Shimano knows gears! Many anglers know of Shimano only for their fishing reels but Shimano is MUCH better known for their bikes among other things. Shimano was behind many innovations in the cycling world. These innovations helped Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France in 1999 and 2002 on a Shimano Dura-Ace equipped Trek bike.

Shimano's knowledge of precision gears and engineering are just as apparent in their fishing reels. Anglers the world over rely on Shimano's reels and equipment for their fishing needs. We don't think that's going to change anytime soon.

 

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

Upon first inspection, Shimano's newly redesigned Sustain FE truly exemplifies everything that the Sustain name stands for. This reel is truly impressive. In my opinion, the smoothness of this reel almost matches that of the previous model Stella 2500 FB.


(The Sustain 2500FE comes with everything you see here, batteries not included...)

When it comes to what I initially liked about this reel, there are just too many things to list. When it comes to what I initially didn't like about this reel I can sum it up with three words: made in Malaysia... Great!


(Made in Malaysia! ...Great...)

My first impressions of the Shimano Sustain FE were very good. This reel is smooth, comfortable to use, and it looks really really good. In fact, we like this reel so much that I think we're going to keep this for use in future reviews.

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

The Shimano Sustain FE has a very attractive-looking machined aluminum handle. The end of the handle has a septum grip that feels very ergonomic and comfortable. The handle is attached directly to the drive gear. This allows cranking power to be transmitted more efficiently with less vibration while also increasing durability.


(The Sustain FE's handle assembly)

As with most Shimano reels, this reel can be taken apart in a very straight forward manner. A word of advice though: When you're taking this reel apart, please keep in mind that this reel isn't like other reels. This reel was made with very tight tolerances and one missing washer can completely ruin the smoothness of this reel. Remember to keep track of the placement of the washers when removing the rotor from the drivetrain. A misplaced washer can easily make this reel grind when cranking the handle.


(The Paladin Drive gear)


(The Idle gear and pinion gear are made with very tight tolerances)

After taking the Shimano Sustain FE apart, it was great to see that the inside of the aluminum body has what appears to be a coating to help protect it from corrosion.


(A closer look at the protective coating inside the aluminum sidecover)

We were happy to see that the Sustain FE had a sealed drag system. With the use of rubber gaskets, this drag is effectively protected from water and dirt. The Sustain FE's drag system utilizes three pairs of washers. Under the spool you can find four spool washers, a shaft bearing with bushing, and a spool support underneath the spool.


(This powerful drag system has 15 lbs. of counter pressure at its disposal)

It's great to see that the Sustain FE's main shaft has bearings on each end.


Speaking of casting, the Sustain FE's titanium-coated propulsion spool lip design is made for longer, smoother casts. The propulsion spool lip design provides longer casting distances than your standard spool lip design. This spool lip design allows the line to flow off of the spool in smaller loops during your cast which translates into less line slap.

Personally, I think this spool's design is not only very functional but it's very beautiful as well. The design of this spool is very eye-catching, and my pictures do not do it any justice.


(This spool is both functional and beautiful)

The Sustain FE's spool design is awesome, but the fact that you get an identical spare spool is even more awesome. Shimano didn't always include a spare spool with some of their reels so i'm glad we're starting to see more of Shimano's reels offering spare spools.


(I love the look of graphite black and gold on the Sustain FE's drilled spool)

Shimano has often used porting holes in their reels in an effort to reduce weight. The Sustain FE is no exception. This reel has porting holes in its bail hold support guard.


(Porting on the bail hold support guard)

After seeing that sorry excuse for a maintenance port on the Saros F, I was VERY happy to see that the Sustain FE has a real maintenance port. I was hoping that Shimano wasn't going to switch their maintenance port design to the way the Shimano Saros F's is. I'm glad my fears were unfounded.


(I prefer the Sustain FE's maintenance port design over the Saros F's)

I was a little disappointed to find that there was no gasket behind the Sustain FE's rear protector. The previous model Sustain FD did have a gasket behind the rear protector to help keep out moisture and dirt.


(Unlike the Sustain FD, there is no gasket behind the rear protector on the Sustain FE)

 

Rod - G Loomis SJR782 IMX
Line - Berkley Fireline Crystal 14 lb. / Spiderwire Stealth 15 lb.
Location(s) - Private pond(s) PA / Maumee River, OH / Ohio River, PA

As I put this reel through its paces, I really started to appreciate this reel's design features. The Sustain FE is very comfortable to use and is a great match for the G Loomis IMX.


(This reel is awesome, and looks the part too!)

When casting the Sustain FE, I observed a noticeable increase in my casting distance compared to any spinning reel I have ever used. I know these bodies of water very well and I can't remember ever being able to cast as far in relation to specific landmarks. The increased casting distance we noticed was consistently between 5 and 10%. This isn't a huge increase but we didn't expect it to be. We were very pleased with the results.


(Line flies off this spool like a bat out of hell!)

We're pleased to say that the Shimano Sustain FE's propulsion spool lip does work as advertised. The Sustain FE is simply a pleasure to cast. Our casts were consistently long, smooth, and accurate. The bail is very responsive and easily engaged without hesitation when the handle is turned.


(I feel like this reel could cast a mile)

I think I'll tie on a senko for this review. These bass absolutely love senkos but at first, I kept feeling like I brought the wrong rod. I usually prefer a 6 foot rod for senkos and general wormin' also (my G Loomis SJR782 IMX is technically my smallmouth rod.) In the end, I was glad I brought the IMX because in my opinion, it really is an awesome match for the Shimano Sustain 2500FE. I found that the G Loomis SJR782 IMX and the Shimano Sustain 2500FE make quite the lightweight combo at around 13.5 ounces. The added sensitivity of the G loomis over my preferred wormin' rod doesn't hurt either!

There is a cold front that's going to be moving in later this evening so I figured the bass would be feeding heavily before the cold front arrives. I figured correctly to the tune of 5 largemouth in a half hour of fishing. Watermelon colored senkos were what the bass wanted today. I guess everyone likes watermelon on a hot summer day.


(Since it's 95 freakin degrees out here I decided to give the bass some cold watermelon or more like a watermelon colored 5'' senko.)

I am thrilled with how far the Shimano Sustain FE can help launch my senkos! I usually target an old laydown from the opposite shore but I have always found it difficult to get my senkos as close as I would like with my older reels, regardless of the rod I used. To my amazement (and dismay), my first cast actually went into the bushes behind the laydown on the other shore! I was so used to power casting with my older reels that I didn't expect my senko to actually land on the other shoreline! Take it from me; the propulsion spool lip design not only works - it works well! You can take a look at the old laydown I target in the picture below.


(The old laydown is in the center in the distance. There are a few lunkers that frequent that laydown from time to time)

Retrievals were smooth as glass and I had absolutely no problems with the bail closing during my casts. The line lay on this reel has been perfect on all of my retrieves and has never been an issue.


(This reel is as smooth as can be and a real pleasure to fish with!)

Well, it didn't take long to test out how much muscle the Shimano Sustain FE has. I got a really big bite on my second cast and I had no problem at all powering the bass to shore. I had the drag tightened down almost all the way my first few casts to see how well the Sustain FE could muscle in bass and boy does it ever!


(This reel can truly muscle in largemouth bass with the best of 'em)

I am pleased to say that the Shimano Sustain FE is one of the most powerful reels I have ever used, despite its small size. This reel cranks very powerfully when playing and landing fish and knowing this gives me the confidence to muscle bass out of heavy cover when needed. The Shimano Sustain FE's 15 lb. maximum drag is amazing. I typically set my drag to a medium or a lower setting because I usually prefer braided line. When using braid, it's usually a good idea to lower your drag to help prevent the line from digging into your spool from playing and landing fish. I won't use braid when I don't want my line to float on the surface or in very clear water.

We measured a maximum drag of 15.4 lbs which is well within the margin for error of +/- 5%.


(I muscled in this guy and his mouth full of weeds out of heavy cover)

I found the drag to be quite smooth and responsive after I decided to loosen it up. The "repairable clicker" makes very satisfying clicking noises (imagine that) to let you know it's working. Did anyone else get freaked out by the way Shimano listed the clicker as being a "repairable clicker" in this reel's specs? Maybe it's just me, but it briefly made me think that the clicker was GOING to break but I think it's more along the lines of the previous Sustain's clicker wasn't repairable.

One of my favorite things about the Shimano Sustain FE is it's ability to cast my small and light lures farther than I have ever been able to cast them. I hate to admit it sometimes, but I am a hardcore finesse fisherman. I would take a 2 inch Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow over a 4 inch Rapala X-Rap any day of the freakin' week (in pressured waters anyway) and be glad I did. So I love the fact that the Shimano Sustain FE (thanks in part to the propulsion spool lip) can cast my smallest lures so well!


(I can get some pretty good distance with my 1/8 oz. Bitsy pond minnow. Wait till you see what we bagged with the Bisty Pond minnow today; coming up in a future review!)

I initially had concerns about how well this reel would perform in the rain. You may or may not know this but Shimano reels have earned themselves the nickname of "Shimbindo" because of their supposed tendency to bind up after being exposed to water or after being used in the rain. I am happy (and relieved) to report that I have had no binding problems at all even after using the Shimano Sustain FE several times in light to moderate rain for hours at a time.


(You can see the drops of rain on the Sustain FE after being used in the rain for several hours)

After months of constant and heavy use, I have come to rely on this reel and it has not let me down. In this angler's humble opinion, the Shimano Sustain FE truly lives up to everything that the Sustain name stands for and then some.

- UPDATE -

* So I was out fishing for some smallies today and my friend decides to call me about how he saw Santa's house when we was driving through the north pole (yes, I'm dead serious).* No problem right? Wrong! I wasn't really paying attention and this reel slid into the water before I could stop it. The Shimano Sustain 2500FE was completely submerged for about 10 seconds. So I pulled the reel out, shook most of the water out of it, and gave it a cast. The Sustain was still as smooth as the day I first bought it! No Binding here!


(I wouldn't try this for yourself but my Sustain 2500FE was still smooth as can be even after being dunked for a short period of time.)

* This is a little off topic but according to my friend Jesse, some town in Alaska pays some dude a yearly salary to live as Santa Clause year round. He legally changed his name to Chris Cringle and he has to accept visitors whenever they show up at his house (I know who I'll be paying a visit to at 2:15 A.M. next time I'm in Alaska). It was this "wtf" moment that made me drop this reel into the water. If Chris Cringle ever gets fired I'll bet he would be a shoe-in at the local mall around Christmas.

At $250 to $300, this reel is probably out of the price range of a great deal of anglers but you really do get what you pay for. I think that you get more reel for your money from Shimano than you did in years past and the Shimano Sustain 2500FE is a prime example of that. The fact that you get an identical spare spool makes up for some of the high price in my opinion. I believe that the Shimano Sustain FE is worth every penny.

I have not been let down in any aspect of this reel's performance and as a result I have come to fully rely on the Sustain FE for many of my fishing needs. If I HAD to pick some nits, I would have to say that for the price I would have liked to see the sidecover made out of magnesium in an effort to reduce the weight even more.

The good - Powerful 15lb. sealed drag, the awesome Propulsion spool lip, comfortable septum reel handle, and the attractive styling.

The Bad - No gasket behind the rear protector and the fact that the clicker is listed as a "repairable clicker" - quit freaking me out Shimano! It would also be nice to see a magnesium sideplate on the Sustain for once! I would pay a little more for a magnesium sideplate Shimano, honest I would!

The Score - 85 out of 100


The good - Superbly powerful cranking, wonderfully smooth and powerful drag, and relatively light weight makes for easy, all day casting. The propulsion spool lip design works well! I can't remember the last time I used a spinning reel for months on end and didn't have at least one problem.

The Bad - Nada. This reel routinely meets and sometimes even surpasses my expectations. It's not socially acceptable to take this reel everywhere with me.

The Score - 100 out of 100


The good - Even after 5 months of mostly using the Shimano Sustain 2500 FE, this reel is as smooth as the day I bought it. This reels performs quite well for me in the rain WITHOUT binding up. This reel is built like a tank!

The Bad - Nothing at all. I haven't observed a single issue in my 5 months of almost exclusively using this reel.

The Score - 100 out of 100

The good - I believe the Shimano Sustain FE is worth every penny. You pay for what you get and what you get is a powerful, aesthetically attractive, and dependable spinning reel.

The Bad - At $250 this reel is out of most angler's price range. For the money, it would be nice to have the sideplate made out of magnesium. This reel should be made in Japan for peat's sake!

The Score - 85 out of 100

Overall score - 94% = (Amazing))

For more on how we score our reviews and the score's meanings


(WOOT!)

What an awesome reel! What an awesome day of fishing! Everything is just awesome! The Shimano Sustain FE is a very high-quality spinning reel that almost any angler (save Diawa owners) would be proud to fish with. My time with this reel has been very well spent pulling in smallies, largemouth, walleye, sauger, and white bass. The Shimano Sustain FE has performed up to or exceeded my expectations time and time again when I needed it.

I can only think of one other spinning reel that I have used that compares to the smoothness and dependability of the Sustain FE and that would be the previous model Stella FB. Being a previous owner of the Stella FB, I can tell you that the Sustain FE compares quite favorably with the Stella FB even in smoothness. The Shimano Sustain 2500FE is my reel of choice and I would highly recommend this reel to anyone willing to pay the relatively high price tag for this little gem.

We highly recommend this product!